Macomb Local News

Flags of Love Paving Project Nearly Complete

Macomb- There are some improvements that are nearly done as the Macomb Flags of Love project will be ready to launch by July. In the Macomb Square by the memorial fountain are at least 850 bricks honoring fallen veterans. Macomb Flags of Love project is about the city of Macomb having numerous flags that each represents a fallen veteran.As of January 2019, the community thought it would be nice to add new features  to this years Flags of Love. So now instead of multiple names on bricks, each veteran will get their own name installed on one brick . It’ll take some time putting names on each brick but the process will be ready by the end of this month.Until the pavement is finished their will be a plywood sheet covering  the memorial fountain until Heritage Day is over. City administrator Scott Coker said “ the city’s remaining task are to finish  the Flags of Love pathway. We have to make sure the names are correct before displaying them at the event”.

The original story by Spencer Foust can be found here: https://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/news/20190618/flags-of-love-paving-project-nearly-complete

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Increase To Illinois Higher Education Is A Move In The Right Direction

Springfield—Higher education officials are relieved to see a budget increase for next year, plus a new capital program for repairs and new construction. The FY 2020 state budget includes $154 million in new dollars for higher education in Illinois, or an 8.2 percent increase over the current fiscal year, for an operations and student assistance total of $2.05 billion. “It’s definitely good news for colleges and universities,” said Nyle Robinson, interim executive director, Illinois Board of Higher Education.

 

“We’re especially gratified to see this level of funding for the Monetary Award Program,” said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC).

“This is the largest appropriation that the program has ever received for a single year, and it’s going to allow ISAC to serve more students and make up some of the purchasing power that the program has lost over the years. Overall, this budget for higher education is going to make college possible for more Illinois students.”

 

The $13.9 million increase for community college operations and adult education programs represents an increase of 5 percent over this year. “The Illinois Community College System thanks the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. JB Pritzker for recognizing the important role that community colleges play in educating the workforce of the future and growing our economy,” said Brian Durham, executive director, Illinois Community College Board. “Additional operating support and new capital dollars will allow community colleges to continue to offer high quality, affordable programs and services throughout the state.”

 

A $50 million increase in MAP funding to $451 million, a historic high for the annual appropriation for a statewide grant program that helps make college possible for low income students. An increase of $10 million for AIM HIGH grants, bringing the appropriation to $35 million to support eligible students attending Illinois public universities. The budget will increase state support for ISAC’s college access and outreach services as federal funding for these programs declines, ensuring that students and families statewide will continue to have access to one-on-one mentoring and assistance with the college-going and financial aid process.

 

“We anticipate that the funding for this program over the six years of the program will allow dozens of projects at the state’s colleges and universities. Some of these projects have been on the list for a decade,” said Robinson. “This would stop the decay in facilities and allow modernization to prepare students for the economy of the future.” This  program would fund 72 projects at colleges and universities, and 91 at community colleges. Capital Renewal money will help address deferred maintenance projects that were postponed due to diminishing state funding.

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Bustos Announces USDA Rural Development Funding for the Village of Vermont

Washington –  Congresswoman Cheri Bustos ,who is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has just announced $25,000 in federal funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program for the Village of Vermont. The USDA Rural Development loans and grant assistance program is designed to forge partnerships with rural communities and fund projects that bring housing, business guarantees, services and other critical utilities to rural America.

 

These federal dollars will be used to purchase new police vehicle equipment for the Village of Vermont’s police department. The new police car and additional equipment will help keep the community safe and will allow officers to respond in a timely manner to calls within Fulton County, as the department provides backup service to the Sheriff's Office.

 

“To grow our economy, we need continued investment in our rural communities and these federal Rural Development dollars help do just that,” said Congresswoman Bustos, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. “As the wife of a sheriff, I know firsthand how hard our officers and first responders work to keep communities safe. I’m pleased that today’s investment will help law enforcement officers continue to protect and serve the people of Vermont.”

 

“Today’s announcement is great news for the Village of Vermont and will help the police department keep our citizens safe,” said Josh Mercer, Village of Vermont President. “Thank you to Congresswoman Bustos for supporting our local law enforcement and being a partner in securing these funds for our community.”

 

 

 

 

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Illinois Department of Public Health Expands Newborn Screening

Springfield – The Illinois Department of Public Health  is rolling out a test today for adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) for all newborn babies statewide.  ALD is a rare hereditary disorder that affects the brain, nervous system, and adrenal gland. It affects approximately 1 in 20,000 births.

“Babies born with adrenoleukodystrophy have normal brains at birth.  However, progression of the disorder without treatment can be fatal,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “By adding ALD to the Illinois newborn screening panel, every baby born in Illinois will be tested for ALD.  Babies who test positive for this disorder can then receive therapies during the early stages of the disease.”

 

Early diagnosis of babies with ALD can lead to potentially life-saving interventions like adrenal steroid replacement or stem cell transplantation.  These therapies are only effective during a small window, which is often missed at times. Through universal screening and early diagnosis, treatment options can be evaluated by the baby’s health care providers and initiated during some cases before symptoms develop.

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added ALD to the national Recommended Uniform Screening Panel in February 2016.  Implementing ALD screening required the purchase of new equipment, development of new test methods, Clinical Lab Improvement Amendments lab test validation, and computer system modification to provide laboratory results and facilitate follow up tracking. Illinois is now the 14th state in the U.S. to screen for ALD.  Additional information can be found on the dph.illinois.gov website.

 

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Duckworth, Durbin & Fischer Introduce Legislation to Help Midwestern Farmers by Reforming Small Refinery Waiver Program

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin have joined Senator Deb Fischer  in introducing bipartisan legislation to reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) small refinery exemption program, which the Trump Administration has abused to exempt oil refineries from having to use legally required levels of biofuel as required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS Integrity Act of 2019  for the first time will make applications for small refinery exemptions (SRE) public and create more certainty for rural America by requiring SRE applications to be submitted by June 1st, instead of year round. As a result, they’ll make sure EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations it sets each November.

 

“Farmers across Illinois and throughout the Midwest are hurting and ethanol plants are idling while this administration is abusing the small refinery exemption program to undermine the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Duckworth. “I am proud to work with Senators Fischer and Durbin to introduce this bipartisan legislation to bring much-needed transparency to the waiver process and prevent it from being misused to benefit billion dollar oil companies at the expense of hard working Americans.”

 

“So-called ‘small’ refinery waivers are being abused by the Trump Administration and they act as a restriction on E15 and biodiesel. Already in the midst of a reckless trade war, this is another blow to Illinois corn and soybean farmers,” Durbin said. “It’s time for the EPA to be more transparent with the process for issuing these waivers.”

 

Senator Fischer said “the bipartisan solution we are putting forth today builds off of the recent victory on year-round E-15 sales. In the past, EPA has issued small refinery exemptions after the Renewable Volume Obligations have already been determined. That’s unfair, and it hurts our farmers and ethanol producers. This bill would shine a light on what’s been an obscure exemption process and help promote economic growth in rural America,”. Waivers issued by the EPA under the SRE program are intended to help small refineries. However, under the Trump Administration, the EPA has undermined the original intent of the RFS by creating dozens of waivers that include large and profitable oil companies like Exxon and Chevron as well as an oil refinery owned by former Trump White House Advisor and billionaire Carl Icahn.

 

The bipartisan legislation will address this by requiring the EPA to report to Congress  on the methodology it uses when granting small refinery exemptions, which is a process that has been repeatedly carried out behind closed doors with virtually no congressional oversight. The bill will also require EPA to obligate gallons lost under SREs to ensure farmers and the biofuel industry are not harmed when waivers are granted.

 

Duckworth and Durbin have been long-time advocates for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which supports a $5 billion biofuel industry in Illinois that employs more than 4,000 people, and for recent policy changes to allow drivers to fuel up with gasoline that is blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) throughout the year. Last week, they joined Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in writing  to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to urge him to stop abusing so-called “hardship” waivers. Duckworth has also recently asked the EPA Office of Inspector General to launch an independent investigation into whether top EPA officials violated the law by inappropriately exempting a number of oil refineries from having to use legally required levels of biofuel, which has driven down prices of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) to multi-year lows.

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WIU Alumna Wins National Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship

Macomb, IL -- Western Illinois University alumna Nicole Walker, who is a May graduate with degrees in forensic chemistry, foreign languages and cultures. She has been awarded an $8,500 national fellowship from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

 

Walker, a member of the WIU Phi Kappa Phi chapter and the Centennial Honors College, will use the award to pursue a doctoral degree in the fall. She was accepted to all seven of the prestigious graduate programs that she applied to, but will study at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Walker was named the winner of the WIU chapter's $500 Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship this year. The honor qualified her to compete for the national award.

 

"WIU has been fortunate to have Nicole Walker on our campus these past four years," said Associate Professor of Chemistry Brian Bellott, a member of the executive board of WIU's chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. "Nicole is an outstanding student who is actively engaged in the classroom, research lab and community. She has earned numerous awards and accolades for all that she has done here at WIU. I wish her the best in her graduate school endeavors."

 

The national Phi Kappa Phi office awards 50 fellowships each year.  Walker was also named the University's recipient of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois' Student Laureate Award for 2019 and graduated summa cum laude. She was named one of only 11 Illinois honorable mention award winners in the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. She was also president of the ACS Chemistry Club and the WIU Chapter of Golden Key International Honour Society.

 

Walker was also involved in the Women in Science Club, Research Inspiring Student Excellence (RISE), the Blue Key National Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma, is a chemistry ambassador for WIU and the recipient of a Centennial Honors Scholarship and works as a desk assistant at Lincoln, Washington and Grote halls. She was named the Organic Chemistry Student of the Year and won outstanding student awards during her freshman, sophomore and senior years.

 

During her sophomore year, Walker was one of just a few college sophomores nationwide selected for the Summer 2017 Research Experience for Undergraduate Students (REU), where she conducted research in chemistry at the University of Kansas.

 

This is the third year in a row a WIU student has won a PKP national fellowship. In 2017, alumnus Nicholas Breslin won the fellowship and is using the award to pursue his doctoral studies at Michigan State University, and in 2018, Jillian Escobar won a fellowship and is using it to pursue her doctoral degree in audiology.

 

Since its creation in 1932, the fellowship program has become one of the society's most visible and financially well-supported endeavors, allocating $345,000 annually to deserving students for first-year graduate or professional study. The selection process for the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship is based on the applicants' evidence of graduate potential, undergraduate academic achievement, service and leadership experience, letters of recommendation, personal statement of educational perspective and career goals and acceptance at an approved graduate or professional program.

 

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Severe Thunderstorm Warnings expire

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH THAT WAS EFFECT UNTIL 2 AM CDT SUNDAY

FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS: BURLINGTON, CARTHAGE, FAIRFIELD,

GENESEO, HENNEPIN, KAHOKA, KEOKUK, KEOSAUQUA, MACOMB, MEMPHIS,

MONMOUTH, MOUNT CARROLL, MOUNT PLEASANT, OQUAWKA, PRINCETON,

AND STERLING HAS EXPIRED.

 

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Severe Thunderstorm Warning in effect

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 362 REMAINS VALID UNTIL 2 AM CDT SUNDAY FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS IN ILLINOIS THIS WATCH INCLUDES 9 COUNTIES IN NORTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS BUREAU PUTNAM IN NORTHWEST ILLINOIS CARROLL HENRY IL WHITESIDE IN WEST CENTRAL ILLINOIS HANCOCK HENDERSON MCDONOUGH WARREN IN IOWA THIS WATCH INCLUDES 5 COUNTIES IN SOUTHEAST IOWA DES MOINES HENRY IA JEFFERSON LEE VAN BUREN IN MISSOURI THIS WATCH INCLUDES 2 COUNTIES IN NORTHEAST MISSOURI CLARK SCOTLAND THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF BURLINGTON, CARTHAGE, FAIRFIELD, GENESEO, HENNEPIN, KAHOKA, KEOKUK, KEOSAUQUA, MACOMB, MEMPHIS, MONMOUTH, MOUNT CARROLL, MOUNT PLEASANT, OQUAWKA, PRINCETON, AND STERLING.

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The "Oliver" Production will be held July 12-14 at WIU Showcases Talent of Local Students

Macomb, IL – The College of Fine Arts and Communication at Western Illinois University just announced the second season of SummerStage, with performances of "Oliver!" Friday-Saturday, July 12-13 and Sunday, July 14, in the Hainline Theatre.

 

Friday and Saturday productions are at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday performance will be at 2 p.m.This summer's production is directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance Hadey Kamminga-Peck. The cast is made up with students in fourth grade through high school, as well as local adults.

 

"This is my first production with SummerStage, and I am simply astounded by the talented people who have joined us on this production," said Kamminga-Peck. "'Oliver!' is a fascinating show that confronts a lot of serious issues, many of which are still present today, and this cast and crew have dived into the script and this story with such open minds and hearts - it delights me to work with them every night."

 

Music Professor Matt Bean is the show's musical director, Theatre and Dance Associate Professor Heidi Clemmens is the choreographer and Faculty Assistant Dan Schmidt is the stage manager. The production is sponsored by Citizen's Bank, a division of Morton Community Bank, with support from the Performing Arts Society.

 

"Oliver!" is a Tony and Olivier Award-winning show, also winning an Academy Award for best picture. Oliver is a malnourished orphan in a workhouse who becomes the neglected apprentice of an undertaker. He escapes to London and finds acceptance among a group of petty thieves and pickpockets. Tickets, $20 for general admission and $15 for senior citizens and students, are available by calling (309) 298-2900.

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BREAKING: Jack Thomas Steps Down Amid Unrest

 

 

Amid unrest surrounding his presidency from both the Macomb community and the WIU Alumni Association, WIU President Jack Thomas has stepped down, effective June 30th.

 

Thomas released the following statement:

 

“I have informed the Board of Trustees that June 30, 2019 will be my last day as President of Western Illinois University. At this pivotal time in our history, I believe the University would best be served by new leadership. 

 

It has been a privilege serving as President, Provost, and as a member of the Illinois Board of Higher Education during this historic period. Despite the difficulties our state has faced with regards to the budget and loss of population, our University remains resilient. We are a world-class University, and during my final days as President, I will work to ensure everything is in place for the new leadership to begin the next chapter in Western's history.

 

During my tenure, the University has been challenged in unprecedented ways, and we have weathered recent storms. I am pleased that we made the difficult decisions and implemented the necessary changes to ensure the University's viability. 

 

Without a doubt, I have had to make some difficult decisions – including ones that have sometimes been very unpopular, but nevertheless were always made with the best interests of the overall University's future at heart. These decisions were made necessary due to a decade of decreased state appropriations (from $56.2 million in FY 2011 down to $47.2 million in FY19), the two-year, unprecedented statewide budget impasse, and enrollment decline due to the large outmigration of high school students from the state of Illinois, demographic shifts in the state, population decline in the region that we serve, and challenges with economic development. Through it all, we continue to transform students' lives, participate in outstanding research, achieve a tremendous level of student, faculty and staff success, and positively impact the communities in which we live, serve and learn.

 

Working together, we have established 17 new degree programs, including the University's first Ph.D. program, diversified our students, faculty and staff, enhanced our online and non-traditional course offerings, built Phases I and II of the Quad Cities Campus, implemented Western Commitment Scholarships, greatly increased aid for all students at the University, beautified our campuses, increased the overall academic profile of our students, increased the University's rankings, significantly grown the Centennial Honors College, focused on serving military members, and so much more.

 

I am very pleased that our advocacy efforts are bearing fruit. We are slated to receive increased state operational funding (5% over FY19), as well as capital funding for the new Science Building ($94.5 million), re-appropriations for the Center for Performing Arts ($89.0 million) and Quad Cities campus ($9.0 million), funds for capital improvements ($29.0 million), and just announced, funds for Macomb campus electrical distribution ($3.3 million).

 

Over the past eleven years, we have received widespread recognition for the excellent, quality educational experience we provide. We increased Western's national rankings in US News and World Report and the Princeton Review as a Best Midwestern University, GI Jobs Magazine as a Military Friendly Institution, Military Times Edge Magazine as a Best for Vets University, and the Washington Monthly College Guide as a "Best Bang for the Buck" Midwestern school. We are also recognized as one of the top master's degree granting institutions in the nation, and as one of America's best four-year colleges for adult learners.

 

Our reputation has also been enhanced as we produced a Rhodes Scholar finalist, a Truman Scholar finalist, a Goldwater Scholar winner, and multiple Fulbright Scholarship recipients.

 

We have achieved many other honors as well. For its commitment to a diverse campus, Western Illinois University was recognized by Minority Access, Inc. with a national award. Additionally, the US Department of Education showcased the University in its report, "Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need," due to Western outperforming our peer institutions in enrolling and graduating Pell Grant recipients. 

 

Our programs have received national recognition. The Master of Accountancy program boasted the state's highest exam pass rate of any Illinois public university. All of the Western Illinois University School of Nursing students who took the required National Council Licensure Exam in 2017 passed. Further, the Department of Physics ranked first in the nation by the American Physical Society's list of the average number of master's degrees awarded per year between 2015-2017, and our School of Engineering has been recognized for one hundred percent placement of its students. These are just a few of the accomplishments we have achieved together.

 

As I reflect, I wish to thank the board members, faculty, staff and students for all of their support throughout the years. It has been an honor advocating tirelessly for Western Illinois University through my interactions with national and world leaders, governors, legislators, and leaders of multiple constituencies. However, first and foremost, I am grateful for the time I have had as President and Provost in interacting with the great students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who make up the Western Illinois University family. It is our people who make this University great, and it has been a privilege serving you.

 

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It Takes a Village to Create Public Art

 

Macomb, IL – A group of Western Illinois University faculty and students along with the Macomb community began working on a wall mural on the side of The Old Dairy restaurant Thursday afternoon.

The project, expected to take about two days minimum to complete. This project is being led by WIU Art Professor Bill Howard and Art Professor Emeritus Mike Mahoney. It received a financial boost from a Performing Arts Society grant.

 

Howard and WIU Associate Professor of Art Duke Oursler have made a massive effort over the last several years to create a variety of public art projects in Macomb. They worked on placing the painted "Rocky" dogs throughout the city over several years, to raise money for scholarships for WIU art students, and with the placement of large sculptures in and around the downtown area.

 

"We have always been talking about murals," said Howard. "We want Macomb to be an arts destination. We wanted to marry the mural project to the community."

 

Howard met with the Macomb Downtown Development Director Kristin Terry and Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Jock Hedblade to join forces on the project. The mural has alot of  historical Macomb figures portrayed, such as Al Sears, and Macomb landmarks, such as the "EAT" sign on the former Maid Rite restaurant on East Jackson Street.

 

Howard designed and sketched the original idea for the mural and then the drawing was projected onto the wall and traced. Community volunteers began filling in the drawing with paint at noon Thursday.

Mahoney, a portrait painter, was hard at work painting the historical faces of Macomb, and WIU art student Ashley Derry, a senior, of Macomb, was high atop a ladder adding her own splash of color.

 

"I wanted to be a part of it because I think it’s a really good idea for the community," she said. "And, while I've been working on it, I've learned a lot of Macomb history I didn't know." Volunteer Sonja Schmidt showed up with a new paintbrush in her hand Thursday afternoon and was excited to begin painting flowers.

 

"I just thought it would be fun to be a part of this; it's a great idea," she said. "I live in Macomb and anything we can do to beautify it…I support that." Oursler weaved between scaffolding to add a tan color to the piece. He said he and Howard has worked for eight years to bring a more artistic flair to Macomb."When people think Macomb, we want them to think art," he said.

 

Terry said the mural is a three-year plan that finally came together with the help of the PAS grant and from The Old Dairy owners, Mark and Emily Gamage, who paid to have the wall cleaned. Emily said she is proud to be a part of the public art project because it creates a "positive vibe" for the community.

 

Howard has a second wall mural painting planned this summer, near the Sports Corner @124 restaurant, just off the Macomb square. He said it will be WIU Athletics-themed, again with historical figures incorporated.The Painting will continue until 7 p.m. today (Thursday, June 13) and from 2-7 p.m. Friday.

 

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Duckworth, Durbin Help Introduce Legislation Directing Trump Administration to Meet Standards Set by Paris Climate Agreement

Washington, D.C – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth  and Dick Durbin  joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen , Bob Menendez and Tom Carper , as well as 39 of their Senate colleagues, last week in introducing legislation directing the Trump Administration to meet the standards established by the historic Paris Climate Agreement and mitigate the long-term damage caused by the administration’s anti-environment actions. The International Climate Accountability Act would prevent the President from using funds to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord and develop a strategic plan for the country to meet its commitment under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

 

“Climate change isn’t some made-up hoax or some far-off nightmare – climate change is real, and it is here,” Duckworth said. “Climate change is one of the gravest environmental, economic and national security threats of our time, and we’re already experiencing its devastating effects in Illinois and across the country. Our military leaders have long understood that increased famine and drought caused by climate change are contributing to political instability across the globe – but it seems that our President does not. I’m proud to join my colleagues in advocating for the U.S. to meet the standards that were agreed to by nearly 175 countries to protect our environment for future generations.”

 

“Withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord will go down as one of the worst decisions of the Trump presidency,” Durbin said.“America should be leading the world when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and becoming more energy efficient. Our bill sets to reverse the Trump Administration’s retreat from the Paris Accord and fight its anti-environment policies.”

 

International Climate Accountability Act makes clear that the Paris Climate Agreement is critical to strengthening international cooperation to reduce global greenhouse emissions and hold high-emission nations accountable, and recognizes the important role the Agreement plays in protecting and advancing U.S. economic interests and foreign policy priorities around the globe. The U.S. joined the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 with nearly 200 other nations. In 2017, Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement – making the United States the only country to reject the climate accords.

 

 

 

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Ground Breaking for Memorial Brick Project

The Macomb Flags of Love Committee celebrated the groundbreaking for the Macomb Flags of Love Memorial Brick project which is located on the south side of Chandler Park in Downtown Macomb area. The expansion of the Flags of Love represent features over 850 American Flags, flown during five holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veteran’s Day. The Flag’s of Love Project started up in 1977 by Leland “Tweed” Mummert, the late Robert Anstine, the late William “Bill” Wayland, and the late Kay Ruggles.

 

The Memorial Bricks Project started in January 2019 through the support of current members and a sizeable donation from the Volunteers Interesting in Benefiting Everyone (V.I.B.E) Organization, in 2018. Also, this project could not have been done without Jack Laverdiere, owner of Laverdiere Construction. Jack will be donating his time towards the foundation of the memorial bricks. It will be a permanent memorial to recognize any deceased Honorably discharged veterans that have resided in McDonough County. All veterans displayed on the Flags will be included in the Memorial Brick Project.

 

The bricks are being placed on the South Side of Chandler Park near the Ruth Watts memorial fountain. “Today marks a special day as we officially break ground on the Memorial Brick project. Once completed it will be a wonderful addition to Chandler Park and honoring our deceased veterans of McDonough County,” stated Marcia Lefante, chair of the Flags of Love committee.

 

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Bustos Receives Champion of Agriculture Award

Washington – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) received the American Agri-Women (AAW) Champion of Agriculture Award. In recognition of her work to promote farm exports, Congresswoman Bustos was presented with the award by Ardath DeWall, a dairy farmer from Shannon, Illinois; and Jeanette Lombardo, President of AAW.

 

Congresswoman Bustos serves on both the House Appropriations and Agriculture Committees. Last year, she helped pass a robust Farm Bill which included her legislation to help new and beginning farmers, improve rural health delivery and crack down on the opioid epidemic that’s ravaging our communities. Congresswoman Bustos has also led the charge for stable trade policies – introducing bills to expand agricultural trade with Cuba and mitigate the financial damage for the farmers resulting from the president’s reckless trade war.

 

“I’m humbled to receive the Champion of Agriculture Award and I want to thank the American Agri-Women for this honor,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “Between the president’s reckless trade policies and the historic flooding across the country, our farmers are hurting right now and need stable leadership from Washington. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I’ll continue to give a voice to the growers and producers in our district as they navigate this tough farm economy.”

 

“Congresswoman Bustos is a strong advocate for rural communities in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District and always fights for our farmers,” said Ardath DeWall of Shannon, Illinois. “In Congress, she’s been a tireless champion fighting to expand our markets and grow the agricultural economy. On behalf of American Agri-Women, I’m proud to present her with this award today in recognition of her great work on the House Agriculture Committee.”

 

 

 

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IDNR Accepting Applications for OSLAD and LWCF Grant Programs

Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced that applications will be accepted for grants through the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant programs beginning July 1, 2019.

 

The OSLAD program is a state-financed grant program that will provide funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public outdoor recreation areas. OSLAD is a matching program that provides any payment (for development projects only) that is 50 percent of the grant award amount. The local agency must demonstrate and possess the ability to finance  remaining costs of any approved project prior to receipt of the remaining grant funds. This program is funded through a percentage of the state’s Real Estate Transfer Tax.

 

The LWCF is a program that utilizes federal dollars to acquire land to be used for outdoor recreation.   This program provides up to 50 percent of the certified market value of property acquired to be developed into outdoor recreation areas. No advance payment is allowed on acquisition projects. LWCF is funded nationally by revenue from offshore oil and gas leases. Both programs are managed by the IDNR with concurrent application due dates, equal grant maximums and similar general rules.The application period will open July 1 and applications must be submitted to the IDNR by 5:00 p.m. August 19, 2019. The Notice of Funding Opportunity can be found at

https://www.illinois.gov/sites/gata/Pages/default.aspx.

 

 

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The WIU Board will Meet June 13-14 in Macomb

Macomb/Moline, IL - The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees will hold their regular quarterly meeting Friday, June 14 in Macomb. The WIU Board's  meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Friday in the Brophy Hall gymnasium on the WIU-Macomb campus.

 

The Board shall convene in a closed session beginning at 7 p.m.Thursday, June 13 for the purpose of considering matters provided for in 5 ILCS 120/2c. The closed session will be held in the Sherman Hall 205.

 

The Board will also have a closed session at 8 a.m. Friday, June 14 for the purpose of considering matters provided for in 5 ILCS 120/2c. The closed session will be held in the Brophy Hall 215.

 

During the June 14 open meeting, the Board will consider the Academic Program Review recommendation, vote to elect a trustee to the State Universities Civil Service Merit Board, and will consider purchases of $500,000 and over, the FY20 Preliminary Spending Plan, tenure recommendations, approval for the WIU Columbarium, election of officers and the presidential assessment and evaluation.

 

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Illinois State Museum Announces New Director

Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has announced the appointment of Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko as director of the Illinois State Museum. The appointment is the result of a nationwide search by a special committee of the State Museum Board. “We’re extremely excited to have Cinnamon on board as the new director of the Illinois State Museum,” said Colleen Callahan, director, IDNR. “She brings with her a wealth of experience, knowledge and energy and we can’t wait for her to take the reins of the Illinois State Museum.”Catlin-Legutko returns to her Midwestern roots following a highly successful term as the president and CEO of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. At the Abbe, she diversified financial base, strengthened community involvement, including successful collaboration with the native Wabanaki people.

 

Before her service at the Abbe Museum, she led the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum to the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries when it was awarded a 2008 National Medal for Museum Service by the Institute of Museum and Library Service and the White House. Catlin-Legutko is a graduate of Purdue University and the University of Arkansas.

Catlin-Legutko has served on the Board of the American Association for State and Local History and currently serves on the American Alliance of Museums Board of Directors. She has lectured and written extensively on museum best practices, including diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in museums, and is a nationally recognized leader in the museum field.

 

“We are very pleased to have Ms. Catlin-Legutko lead the Museum as we strive toward greater inclusiveness and expand our service to Illinois citizens and beyond,” said Dr. Lorin Nevling, chairman, Illinois State Museum Board. “We will celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2027 and much remains to be done prior to that time. The Board of the Museum is eager to work with Director Catlin-Legutko to assure a brilliant future for the museum.” The Illinois State Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Museum is located at 502 South Spring Street in Springfield on the Capitol Complex. Admission is $5 for adults ages 19-64 and is free for youth, seniors, and veterans.  In addition to the Springfield Museum, other public Museum facilities are found at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewiston and the Lockport Gallery in Lockport.

 

 

 

 

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State Rep. Norine Hammond Opposes Reproductive Health Act

Macomb – Moments ago, Governor Pritzker signed into law legislation expanding abortion in Illinois. State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) publicly voiced her opposition to the legislation when the Illinois House of Representatives voted on it this past May 28.

 

“The governor’s signing of legislation expanding abortions in Illinois is tragic,” said Rep, Hammond. “This legislation represents a radical expansion of abortion in Illinois, on top of our state’s extremely-permissive abortion laws. The people of our communities strongly believe that the unborn deserve protection in law. As your State Representative, I will continue to oppose these radical abortion laws and advocate for the unborn.”

 

The legislation, Senate Bill 25 (SB 25), referred to by proponents as the “Reproductive Health Act,” eliminates legal protections for the unborn currently in state statute. The legislation states, “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.” The legislation also states that those who become pregnant have a “fundamental right” to an abortion. The “fundamental right” status prohibits state interference with abortion, which will likely nullify the parental notification statute for abortions performed on minors.

 

SB 25 removes criminal penalties against a doctor who performs an abortion when there is a reasonable possibility of survival of the child outside the womb. SB 25 provides a broad and expansive definition of “fetal viability,” which will allow for late-term abortions under certain circumstances. The legislation repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, the Abortion Performance Refusal Act, and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

 

SB 25 also requires certain private insurance companies to cover abortion services. Through the passage and signing into law of House Bill 40 in 2017, which Rep. Hammond opposed, state statute allows for the taxpayer funding of abortion. .

 

SB 25 passed only with support from Democratic members of the Illinois House and Senate.

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IDNR Accepting Applications for New Boat Access Development Program

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced applications will be accepted for grants through the Boat Access Area Development grant program beginning on July 1, 2019.

 

The Boat Access program is a state-financed grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public boat and canoe access areas in Illinois.

 

This program can provide up to 100 percent reimbursement funding assistance on approved development project costs and 90 percent reimbursement on land acquisition costs.

 

The local agency must demonstrate and possess the ability to finance the costs of an approved project prior to receipt of grant funds. This program is funded through a percentage of the state’s marine motor fuel tax and canoe registration fees.

 

The program is managed by the IDNR. The application period will open July 1 and applications must be submitted to the IDNR by 5:00 p.m. on August 19, 2019. The Notice of Funding Opportunity can be found at here

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Local Brewery Receives Money

 

The soon to open, Macomb-based brewery, Forgottonia Brewing, competed in last year’s Downtown Macomb Retail Competition, and won. Their prize was a total of $28,000 in winnings, and today, Mayor Mike Inman and Downtown Development Director, Kristen Terry, presented the company with a check for $3,500 of the earnings. 

 

(Photo courtesy of City of Macomb)

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Duckworth, Hastings Urge DoD to Drop Insensitive Forms

 

Antiquated Document Raises Concerns

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congressman Alcee Hastings introduced a bill today in an attempt to force the Department of Defense to review in-use documents containing racially and otherwise insensitive information. The Office of Management and Budget implemented standards on racial terminology more than 20 years ago, but it appears the DoD has not listened, as a piece of documentation containing racially insensitive language has surfaced. 

 

In her statement on the bill, Duckworth pointed out that the issue arose due to the mailing of an outdated form to a deceased serviceman’s family contained the word “negroid” as a classification of race. Duckworth and Hastings expressed “shock” at the use of the word, while also calling it “un-excusable” that the term is still in use more than 20 years after it was mandated the word cease in its use. The main purpose of the bill, is to require the DoD to study its in-use forms and periodically submit reports with information on those forms which contain insensitive information to the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senators Ron Wyden, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey and Amy Klobuchar have joined Duckworth and Hastings in the sponsorship of the bill. 

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Illinois 21st on WalletHub List

 

Land of Lincoln Receives Middle of the Pack Distinction

In a study done to determine the quality of all 50 states in the U.S., WalletHub found Illinois 21st. Illinois received its highest marks (6th in both) in safety and quality of life, while receiving its lowest (45th and 46th respectively) in affordability and economy. As the economy continues to recover from decades of frivolous and, at times, illegal spending, the state could see a rise on lists like this. Illinois also received a middle of the pack 24th ranking on health and education (one category). A much more positive and fun note about the state from this list, Illinois was 5th in restaurants per capita, making it truly one of the best places to eat in America, if nothing else.

 

A few other interesting notes and takeaways from the list: first, only one state that could be considered Southern cracked the top-25, Florida, at #21. California and New York were 49 and 50 respectively on the affordability list, while Alabama and West Virginia came in at 1 and 2. The least safe state was interestingly Alaska, North Dakota was rated as the best economy, and New Yorkers were given the distinction of having the best quality of life. For health and education, Vermont was deemed #1, while New Jersey was deemed safest.

 

Now, obviously, this is onlyl one of undoubtedly hundreds of these kinds of lists, most of which simply use data from the Census Bureau, but it’s always interesting to read these and see where your state stacks up. https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-to-live-in/62617/ has the rest of the rankings as well as the methodology for selecting the list in the way they did. 

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Officials Caution Residents Concerning Rivers And Lakes

Springfield, IL-- Illinois officials and DNR are advising those who are recreating in the wilderness near Lakes and Rivers to be very cautious. With the massive amounts of flooding and high temperatures in the coming future, Blue-Green Algae is in "bloom". While most blue-green algae are harmless, some can produce toxic chemicals that cause sickness or other health effects in people and pets, depending on the amount and type of exposure.

 

People who plan to recreate in or on Illinois lakes or rivers this summer are advised to avoid contact with water that:

• looks like spilled, green or blue-green paint;
• has surface scums, mats, or films;
• is discolored or has green-colored streaks; or
• has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.

 

People are also advised to keep children and pets out of the water. Do not allow pets to drink from the water and do not allow them to lick their fur after swimming in water containing a blue-green algae bloom. If you or your pet has contact with water you suspect may have a blue-green algae bloom, rinse off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.

 

 

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WIU Alumni Council Calls for Presidents Resignation

MACOMB, Illinois-- The Western Illinois University Alumni Council has made the decision to call for University President Dr. Jack Thomas to resign from his position by June 30, 2019.

 

In a resolution made public on Monday, June 10, 2019, the council bullet points several reasons why they are asking for President Thomas to resign, saying the university has been "severely impacted in recent years by declining enrollment, funding shortfalls, arduous negotiations with collective bargaining units, and the departure of several senior leaders." They go on to say the university has been moving too slow and indecisive in addressing issues and that stakeholders have publicly feuded to the detriment of public relations and internal morale.

 

The Council wants President Thomas to resign by June 30, and if he doesn't, they want the Board of Trustees to terminate his contract.

The council also puts forward a plan of action, also outlined in the aformentioned resolution. They call for investments to be made into pullling in new students and recruitment.

 

The resolution passed with a 15-2 vote. It's signed by Alumni Council President John Sanders.

 

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WIU Board to Meet June 13-14 in Macomb

Macomb/Moline, IL -- The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees will have its regular quarterly meeting on  Friday, June 14. The WIU Board’s meeting will be held in Macomb and begin at 8 a.m. Friday in the Brophy Hall gymnasium on the WIU-Macomb campus.

 

The Board shall convene in a closed session beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 13 for the purpose of considering matters provided for in 5 ILCS 120/2c. The closed session will be held in the Sherman Hall 205.

 

The Board shall also convene in closed session at 8 a.m. Friday, June 14 for the purpose of considering matters provided for in 5 ILCS 120/2c. The closed session will be held in the Brophy Hall 215.

 

At the June 14 open meeting, the Board will consider the Academic Program Review recommendation, vote to elect a trustee to the State Universities Civil Service Merit Board, and will consider purchases of $500,000 and over, the FY20 Preliminary Spending Plan, tenure recommendations, approval for the WIU Columbarium, election of officers and the presidential assessment and evaluation.

 

 

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